WASHINGTON: The Obama administration's decision to delay until 2015 an Affordable Care Act mandate requiring companies with 50 or more employees to provide insurance for all staffers is expected to have a limited impact on the PR industry's work promoting the law.
Over the last two years, PR firms around the country have been awarded multi-million-dollar contracts to publicize health insurance exchanges mandated by the legislation. The IRS has said this part of the law is unchanged, and open enrollment is scheduled to begin October 1.
The exchanges are marketplaces where consumers can compare and buy insurance.
“I don't think those contracts have become any more vulnerable because of this announcement,” said Al Jackson, SVP and head of the healthcare practice at O'Neill and Associates. “Now, if in a month, the administration also announced a delay in the individual mandate to get insurance, that would be major event that would put both the bill and these contracts at risk.”
Moving forward, the Obama administration should do a better job of reminding people about the benefits of the legislation, especially since detractors of the bill have cited the employer mandate delay as a sign it will ultimately not work, Jackson added.
Communicators at Washington-based industry groups said their members are watching for further action by the administration.
Members of the National Restaurant Association are curious to see if other components of the Affordable Care Act will be affected because the law's provisions “are so intertwined,” said Michelle Neblett, director for labor and workforce policy at the trade group.
Stephen Schatz, senior director of media relations, communications, and public affairs at the National Retail Federation, added the administration “needs to communicate to business owners what their next steps should be.”
Shartz said his group's members were pleased about the extension, but it threw off those that were ready to comply with the requirement.